COVID19 life

Quarantine Essentials

January 9, 2021

A list of things which helped us stay sane while stuck at home:

1- Meal Kits. Yes, grocery delivery is great but I went a step further and used Sun Basket for 2 weeks just to take ALL the work out of meal planning. The kids actually liked most of the meals and Annabel in particular enjoyed doing some of the prep. (Note: Sun Basket was previously a podcast sponsor, but these were kits I bought on my own; this mention is non-sponsored, as is the rest of this post).

2- Settlers of Catan. The big kids are currently obsessed with this game. Unfortunately G is about 3-4 years away from being able to join in, so only one parent can play with the two big kids at a time — usually Josh but I have on occasion and it’s actually pretty fun! Great to have kids at a stage where playing a game does not have to be mind-numbing.

(Random aside: Josh has offered $100 to any kid who legitimately beats him in chess. It has not happened yet. I never learned how to play chess and honestly have no interest so I will be staying out of this battle but A&C seem motivated.)

3- Sidewalk chalk, We went through two boxes of it. Worth every $.

chalk, chalk, and more chalk

4- Bubbles! I ordered a bubble wand set and pack of giant bubbles and this was a fun outdoor Q activity as well. Unfortunately the biggest (and most coveted) want broke already but it was like $3 so I guess I can replace it.

coveted big wand

5- Screen time. I mean, let’s be real. Usually we tried to hold off until 1pm (or last week when there was school, until after school). Annabel will now help Genevieve play her first iPad game (“Panda game”). I never would have allowed 3 yr old A or C play but . . . eh. They weren’t 3 during a pandemic.

Other random shout-out of the day:

When I asked previously about meal planning resources, some of you mentioned How Sweet Eats. She recently had a post of 20 soups that has me wanting to make ALL of them, and released 32 weeks of free meal plan ideas (!). Her recipes seem like they hit a nice balance between reasonably healthy and delicious though admittedly I haven’t tried any yet!

I think I am going to include one of her soups on our weekly menu until springtime. (Not that it’s REALLY soup weather here all that often, but whatever!)

PS: Yes I’m relieved to report I’m feeling much better today! Hopefully no more waxes + wanes!? I am actually cleared to get my 2nd vaccine dose today (!) and then hopefully life will approach some sort of reasonable rhythm again soon.


  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns January 9, 2021 at 11:01 am

    My husbands friends play Catan. They are sooo good at it after years of playing it so I can never beat them! But it is really fun to play! Our son is really into games now so that is fun. We have the hungry caterpillar, my first orchard, hi ho Cheerio, and 2 memory games. I’m so glad he has reached the game stage as I enjoy that way more than any sort of imaginative play!

    Glad you are feeling better! And I’m glad this is a nice weather season for you. Being able to play outside makes a huge difference. It’s been mild for MN here so I’ve been getting out for daily walks and we take our toddler sledding on the weekend. The fresh air is so good for all of us!!

  • Reply KGC January 9, 2021 at 11:13 am

    OMG chess. My 4.5 year old learned how to play and is shockingly good considering his age but hasn’t beaten my husband yet. He’s coming close to being able to beat my dad (they play against each other on the iPad on a phenomenal app called Together). I love the idea of some sort of prize for whenever M finally does legitimately beat either my dad or my husband! But honestly I just love that my husband now plays actual games with my older son because…he’s not great with babies and our parenting has not been particularly equitable in these young years. It’s nice to be coming out on the other side though and see them have activities together that I actually can’t be part of (unless I learn chess, I guess!). Glad you guys are feeling on the up and up!

    • Reply Sunny January 10, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      Glad you and the family are doing better! For those who want to play chess with kids, I recommend the game “no stress chess” where one or both players can draw cards that tell you which kind off piece to move (and reminds you what pieces are allowed). This game helped my daughter learn the rules pretty quickly and it can be used to handicap an adult player or just help an adult player who can never remember the pieces and moves (like me!).

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 10, 2021 at 3:23 pm

        Ooh I would need this 🙂

  • Reply Young January 9, 2021 at 11:36 am


    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Yes … he assumed neither will be able to beat him for several years so he wanted to make the prize something aspirational 😂. It’s a one time prize …

  • Reply gwinne January 9, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Glad you’re feeling a bit better! Tiny Boy had a “leap pad” at G’s age, I think, that was really useful for a short time. Good for learning letters, listening to picture books, etc, without needing internet connection, etc.

  • Reply Irene January 9, 2021 at 11:55 am

    Love this post! My oldest got this board game called Gnomes at Night for Christmas and I have actually enjoyed playing it with her – so different from anything we had before. Will have to check back to see others suggestions! My kids also love bubbles. We play a game where the kids pop the bubbles with tennis rackets which surprisingly has not resulted in any major injuries yet.

    Also, my daughter taught herself to read using an iPad game around G’s age. There is such a thing as academic screen time even at that age! I have no regrets.

  • Reply Danielle January 9, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    I don’t particularly care for chess as an adult, but I have fond memories of playing with my Dad as a child. He even had this computerized chess board that allowed you to play the computer. When it was the computer’s turn it would signify which piece to move where and then you moved the piece. Yay, for you second dose! My sister and husband have had their first dose because of their professions and I was telling them, “Be extra careful!!! Don’t get it now, it’ll mess up your second dose!!” So, I’ve been waiting to see how that played out for you.

    I’m glad everyone is doing well and it sounds like these rocky weeks are coming to a close. Hopefully the only lasting result is that A and C will have fond memories of Mom and Dad being home a lot.

  • Reply Sara B. January 9, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    I love to make soup. It’s actually my best lunch-at-work hack: I freeze soup leftovers in individual containers (we’re ok with plastic and the cheap ziplock 2c round ones have screw-on kids and are perfect for this). I take one to work frozen most days, and if I forget to put it in the fridge I don’t worry because it’s barely defrosted by lunchtime. Microwave, add some cheese or crackers, done. My husband isn’t a huge soup fan – he tolerates it every other week-ish and my kids rarely eat it either – they all favor the grilled cheese, good ham sandwiches, or quesadilla to go with soup-for-dinner, and so there are just the right amount of leftovers to freeze. I bet I have 5 varieties of soup in my freezer (mostly chili varieties). This is my favorite, and even though I’m not vegetarian, it’s great that it can be vegetarian, vegan, or not, and red lentils make it great:

  • Reply Jen January 9, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    We got a hand me down of Catan Junior and my 7 year old really got into it before the holidays! It’s great when we can play a game like that! 3 year old sibling isn’t quite there yet.

  • Reply Elisabeth January 9, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    So glad to hear you’re feeling better AND able to get your second dose! Hope you stay feeling well (and Josh!). In a way, I guess it’s good that you got the (likely) inevitable over with?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      Probably would have been better to just get vaccinated (b/c then I’m not sure it would have been inevitable and we were SO CLOSE!) but yes – I know what you mean. Grateful for feeling pretty much okay and nothing severe happening. I know we were so so lucky in that regard.

  • Reply Coco January 9, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    glad to know you are feeling better, what a relief.
    I find that my girls are most creative when at home without much offered. yesterday I came back and the full living room was set as an obstacle course with pillow and benches, and another day they set up an ice cream shop with stuff animals as clients. It’s messy but at least they were entertained. 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger January 9, 2021 at 4:39 pm

      OMG today ALL morning the 3 of them set up an elaborate “dr’s office” with a few pieces from an old dr kit, ‘waiting area’ with toys + library, examining ‘rooms’ made from couch cushions – etc. Agree, the best play often involves almost nothing.

  • Reply Taryn January 9, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    If you watch the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, you might become interested in chess. It’s really fantastic!! I’m also very glad to hear you’re doing better and getting your second dose of vaccine today.

  • Reply Emily January 10, 2021 at 9:40 am

    Impressed they can both play Catan! Rooting for both A&C (and eventually G!) to beat Josh at chess too. 🙂 Love the chalk photo and always jealous of the girls’ curly hair. Would also be interested in any cooking/recipe reviews you share — soup sounds perfect this time of year. Glad you’re feeling better and hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!

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